The issues that made Ted Cruz and the tea party movement the unbridled future of conservative American politics no longer motivate the GOP base, according to some of the senator’s closest allies.
So Cruz, 47, is embracing a new route to appeal to his party’s voters this fall — leaning on the policies and popularity of his one-time nemesis, President Donald Trump.
Cruz and Trump attacked each other bitterly during the 2016 fight for the GOP Republican presidential nomination. Cruz was one of the last Republican candidates to endorse Trump for the general election.
Now headed into a re-election race where polls show Cruz up just single-digits over Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke, the senator is campaigning hard for many of Trump’s top policy priorities — while Cruz’s own brand of GOP politics is garnering significantly less enthusiasm among the party faithful.
“The issue set has changed,” said David McIntosh, president of the conservative Club for Growth, one of the top financiers of Cruz’s past and current campaigns.
Despite years of campaigning successfully by promoting smaller government, less federal spending, and an enforceable debt ceiling under President Barack Obama, McIntosh said the Republican Party shifted its focus in the 2016 cycle, “to immigration [and] trade to some extent among the grassroots base.”
Cruz has been a leading messenger for his party’s priorities, dropping in to help his colleagues turn out GOP faithful during their campaigns.
“We’ve never had a president that stood for the little person,” said Joni Jack, a small business owner and Cruz supporter who attended the senator’s campaign event in Smithville, Texas, last month. “I got to see [Trump] speak [in D.C.] last June… I cried through his entire speech, it was such an honor.”